Tropical Storm Ketsana/Ondoy Inundates Metro Manila

Tropical Storm Ketsana (locally called Ondoy) was not a very strong storm. It was gusting at about 65-75kph only. An average tropical storm in a country that has known typhoons with strengths more than double that. But what set Ondoy apart from most of the storms was its enormous rain bands. The amount of rain it dumped on Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. In just 6 hours, Ondoy dumped rains equivalent to one month.

Typhoon Ondoy

The entire Metro was caught unprepared for the deluge. In our case, the day started out rainy but my kids had places to go. Our youngest had spent the night with other teeners for a fellowship at Taguig, almost across The Fort. My 2 girls set out for school: for classes and for one of them, community service in Sta. Mesa. Our oldest boy also left for his school bringing different sets of clothes for his graduation pictorial. My hubby was on a business trip in Bangkok and was set to return in the late afternoon.

By midday, the rains were pouring like the heavens just opened its arms and released its entire contents. Our driver who had just dropped my girls off at Ateneo, texted me that he could not get to where our youngest was as the area around Tiendesitas Ortigas was too deep for the van to get through. I learned later that he was able to turn around but again had to stop at the Ortigas-C5 junction due to floods in the Libis area.

My brother who responded to my request to pick up our son at school failed even at that because Ermitano Creek near our house had overflowed and suddenly flooded the surrounding areas. Our barangay, which is considered one of the highest spots in San Juan, was underwater! Here are some pictures posted by people whose identities remain unknown to me but who I would like to thank for posting these online.

Gen. de Jesus St.

Gen. de Jesus St.

Another view of Gen. De Jesus with Xavier Gym in background

Another view of Gen. De Jesus with Xavier Gym in background

Wilson St.

Wilson St.

The afternoon was a stressful one. I kept calling my girls, my sons, the driver and several people trying to get everyone coordinated so they get home safe. It was a great relief to me when the girls were finally fetched by the driver in school after several hours of braving traffic and floods. They passed for our older son in school and got home by early evening. A kind family at our community also took our youngest son home. A couple of hours later, hubby called me. His plane had safely landed in NAIA but he had to spend a night at a hotel as the driver slated to pick them up was also stranded somewhere in the Pasay area.

Even now, the entire metro is reeling from the devastation wrought by Ondoy. Friends of mine have lost everything. Some are still staying at friends’ houses. My mom’s boarders on the first floor hardly saved anything as waters rushed into the house as the San Juan river overflowed. I was getting ready to evacuate my Mom, 2 siblings and the boarders last night as the water was just 2 steps short of reaching them on the 2nd floor. My sister and 2 of her kids were stranded in Makati and had to stay at a hotel while my BIL and another of their kids was somewhere in St. Scholastica area. No one has been spared rich, or poor.

The news say that this is the worst flood in 40 years. WOW!

While this seems like a major calamity on our hands, there are pockets of sunshine that always pop through in times of disaster. This is what Filipino bayanihan spirit is all about. Neighbors are helping each other. The internet is being widely used to act as a communication center for public service. Many bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk and other social networking media continue passing on telephone numbers of government agencies, reposting cries for rescue from families of bloggers, friends and strangers caught in places like Marikina and Cainta.

The relief and rescue operations are ongoing as I write this. In another post, I will put up as much info on donations (local and international) that I can find and I hope you, my readers, can respond to the wave of humanity in Metro Manila, Philippines needing a little of your compassion. We thank you in advance for any generosity and prayers.

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Al Jarreau/George Benson Take Manila by Storm (literally!!!)

I am a jazz lover and a child of the 70s/80s in terms of my music taste. There is a wide range of jazz artists I listen to but 2 of my favorites are Al Jarreau and George Benson. When a friend told me that they were holding a one-night concert in Manila, I called up yogini friend Chona who agreed to watch with me. This was my first concert again — in ages!!! And I am not exaggerating!

On the night of September 8, just when Chona and I were waiting to be seated at Italiannis Gateway, the heavens opened and a downpour of cinematic proportions came crashing down on the entire Araneta Coliseum area. Many of those eating dinner at Italiannis, like us, were just waiting for showtime. We even spotted some politicos in nearby tables as well as parents from my sons’ school. Seemed like my generation was coming out in full force to see the power duo of jazz!

Chona and I had Upper A tickets and as we purchased early on, we had a front row view. The show was delayed for half an hour due to the rains but as promised, it started at exactly 8:30 PM. And wow, these 2 did not fail me.

Al Jarreau started out the first set. Is this guy already 68 years old? Well, he belted out songs with the same timbre and versatility he had from decades ago!  His vocals were intact! I heard snippets from different songs: “Berimbau”, “Mais Que Nada”, “Agua de Beber”, and even “Girl from Ipanema” sang in that all-too-familiar Jarreau voice like no other. My only disappointment? He did not do “Spain”!!! 😦

The next set was George Benson and personally, I loved him better because he sang many of the songs I loved: “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You”, “In Your Eyes”, “Give Me the Night”, “Turn Your Love Around”, “Love Times Love”, and others.

If we talk of performance level, Al Jarreau stood out because he had a flair for playing around with his vocals and the songs, being playful with the audience and the band. But in terms of music to my ears, George Benson’s repertoire was IT!

They did a jazz piece together bringing the audience to its feet, clapping, dancing and singing along. And when everyone roared for an encore, they sang “On Broadway”.

The blogger in me wanted to bring a digicam but I was not sure of Araneta’s rules. I should have listened to my instincts! The video snippets I took from my camphone leave much to be desired.

But just to give you an idea of what we experienced the night that the Jarreau/Benson tandem took Manila by storm, here are some of them (warning: the visuals suck with the camphone I had. But the music is still awesome).

Thank you, Al Jarreau & George Benson, for a wonderful, nostalgic trip back to a wonderful time in my life. It was a night I would long remember and relish.

Turn Your Love Around

Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You

In Your Eyes

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